COCKERELL, Sir Charles, 1st bt. (1755-1837), of Hyde Park House, Mdx. and Sezincote, Glos.
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Family and Education
b. 18 Feb. 1755, 5th s. of John Cockerell of Bishop’s Hull, Som. and Frances, da. and coh. of John Jackson of Clapham, Surr. educ. Winchester 1767-9. m. (1) 11 Mar. 1789, at Calcutta, Mary Tryphena (d. 8 Oct. 1789), da. of Sir Charles William Blunt, 3rd bt., s.p.; (2) 13 Feb. 1808, Hon. Harriet Rushout, da. of John Rushout†, 1st Bar. Northwick, 1s. 2da.(1 d.v.p.). cr. bt. 25 Sept. 1809. d. 6 Jan. 1837.
Writer, E.I. Co. (Bengal) 1775, factor 1782; asst. at Bhagalpur 1783, collector 1784; jun. merchant 1785; sen. merchant 1790; postmaster-gen. Bengal c.1786-1800; home 1801; commr. bd. of control Apr. 1835-d.
Mayor, Evesham 1810, 1833; sheriff, Glos. 1814-15.
Dir. Globe Insurance Co. 1811.
Cockerell, a nabob and principal partner in a Calcutta mercantile and banking company, had been returned intermittently as the nominee of various boroughmongers until seated on petition for Evesham in 1819, after a contest in which he stood on his father-in-law Lord Northwick’s interest. His many debtors included Lord Wellesley, his former patron, with whom he had followed the Whigs into opposition in 1812, and the 5th duke of Marlborough, one of whose Hampshire properties he seized in 1821 in order to recover ‘a large sum of money’.[footnote] Since 1816 he had given general support to the Liverpool ministry. At the 1820 general election he offered again for Evesham, stressing his ‘past exertions’ in rescuing the representation from nearly a century and a half of ‘progressive encroachments’. (The number of electors had been reduced to about 430 as a result of his petition.) He was returned unopposed.[footnote] A lax attender, who is not known to have spoken in debate, he continued to support government when present.[footnote] He voted against Catholic claims, 28 Feb. 1821. He was a minority teller against reviving the committee on the metropolis light bill, 9 May 1821. On 14 Apr. 1823 he was granted three weeks’ leave on urgent private business. He divided against reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 26 Feb. 1824. He presented an Evesham petition for the abolition of slavery, 5 Apr. 1824.[footnote] He voted for suppression of the Catholic Association, 25 Feb. 1825. On 15 Apr. 1825 he was granted ten days’ leave on account of ill health, and he did not vote in any of the divisions on Catholic relief that session. He divided against Lord John Russell’s resolutions to curb electoral bribery, 26 May 1826.
At the 1826 general election Cockerell offered again, apologizing for being ‘unavoidably detained in London by his public duties’ and sending down his son Charles to canvass on his behalf. After a contest forced by the late announcement of a third candidate, Cockerell, who arrived on the eve of the election, was returned at the head of the poll.[footnote] He was granted leave for ten days on urgent business, 12 Feb., and a month, 20 Feb., and a fortnight, 29 Mar. 1827, on account of family illness. He was absent from the division on Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, but present to vote against it, 12 May 1828. In February 1829 Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, predicted that he would vote ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation, but on 2 Mar. he was granted three weeks’ leave because of ill health, and his name appears in none of the divisions that month. He voted against the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb. 1830.
At the 1830 general election Cockerell contradicted a ‘false report, most industriously circulated’ that it was his intention to retire from Evesham, and was returned in first place after a controversial three-day poll, which his opponents challenged on petition. He was listed by the Wellington ministry as one of their ‘friends’ and divided in their minority on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. Following inquiry into the petition, he and his colleague Lord Kennedy were found guilty of bribery and their election declared void, 13 Dec. 1830. His son Charles was rumoured as a candidate for the ensuing vacancy, but the writ was suspended to allow for consideration of possible disfranchisement.[footnote] At the 1831 general election Cockerell, in defiant mood, again came forward, denouncing the ‘unprecedented decision of a committee of the late House’ that had ‘severed’ him from his constituents, and which had been ‘brought about by means the most dishonourable and uncalled for’. He promised to be an ‘unflinching supporter’ of ‘vested rights’ and franchises, but at the same time recognized the necessity of broadening participation in the elective franchise. He was again returned at the top of the poll.[footnote] He was absent from the division on the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, but gave generally steady support to its details. He divided for the third reading of the bill, 19 Sept., its passage, 21 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He voted with ministers on the Dublin election controversy, 23 Aug. He divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, again supported its details, and voted for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He divided for the address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry the bill unimpaired, 10 May. On 21 May he presented an Evesham petition praying that the supplies be withheld until it was effected. He voted with ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 20 July 1832.
At the 1832 general election Cockerell, by now in his late seventies, was made to ‘pay smartly’ by the electors of Evesham, where he was appointed mayor the following year and sat as a Liberal until his death in January 1837, aged nearly 82, having for 20 months held junior office in the Melbourne ministry.[footnote] His continuing commercial activities included an involvement with Benjamin Disraeli† in 1836.[footnote] By his will of 7 Oct. 1835, his daughter Harriet received a legacy of £10,000 and his estates passed to his wife and thereafter to Charles, who inherited his share of the partnership of Cockerell and Company and succeeded him in the baronetcy.[footnote]